Last week, I was invited to the Melissa’s Produce demo and test kitchen for a holiday foodie party and what a treat it was! Dessert creations by top home and professional chefs and cookbook authors — and me taking my simple Raspberry Lime Cupcakes because I wanted to contribute, even though I knew I had NO chance in winning! We also got all the scoop on the top specialty produce in 2023. So much info while eating fantastic food.
Melissa’s Produce knows how to put on a party! Chef Tom, the MP chef, put on a spread full of produce-forward items, all made fresh for us, with recipes available for us to recreate afterwards on our own. Check out this Holiday Menu list!
- Dutch Yellow Potato & Dutch Red Potato Chips with Housemade Ranch
- Hatch Pepper Deviled Eggs
- Cheesy Spinach Dip with Veggie Sweet Mini Peppers & Crudites
- Hatch Polenta Fries & Hatch Salsa
- Fresh Fruit Salad
- Lettuce-Wrapped Steak Tacos
- Party Chil
- Pinkglow Agua Fresca
- Orange-Pineapple-Ginger Agua Fresca
- Ginger-Tumeric Shots
Then there were the desserts. Seventeen desserts, to be precise, all made by fellow food bloggers and writers. There was a contest, open to everyone, to vote for their favorite dessert. I knew I was up against some serious competition, so I went to it with the gratitude of being able to attend and participate, rather than win. My cupcakes are pretty darn good, but I’m not a published author and I don’t always get a chance to attempt making a recipe multiple times before it leaves the house and ends up in others’ hands….and I mean in the hands of friends and loved ones. I don’t cater cupcakes anymore, so I do it entirely for fun. But check out some of the entries! (The gorgeous mini pavlova in the middle photo below won second place! Totally deserved.)
To add to the challenge, our second refrigerator died and the model we needed — all fridge, no freezer — was running about six weeks out to delivery from the date we ordered. It ended up being delivered about an hour after I returned home from the event…but I brought home so few cupcakes, I only had a few to store, and my family devoured them pretty quickly. You can find my Raspberry Lime Cupcakes recipe here!
Contrary to what many of us do, not all produce needs to be in the refrigerator from the minute you get it from the market. Ripeness and usage and age matters, but that’s an entirely separate post full of good produce information you really do need to know in order to maximize freshness and storage time.
In the meantime, let’s talk about the top specialty produce items in 2023 from Melissa’s Produce.
Top Specialty Items 2023 from Melissa’s Produce
- Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes
- Baby Red Potatoes
- Steamed Lentils
- Ginger Root
- Steamed baby Red Beets
- Gemstone Potatoes
- Dragon Fruit (white, red & yellow)
- Chayote Squash
- Red Caribbean Papaya
- Serrano Peppers
- Baby Dutch Red Potatoes
- Baby Bok Choy
- Jalapeno Peppers
Are any of these items your favorite? I think we’ve contributed multiple times to Baby DYP being at the top. Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes are SO versatile. They come in handy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have two favorite ways to use them. #1 — Chopped and sauteed with onions and bell peppers, seasoned with garlic, S & P. So good, and so easy! #2 — Sliced thinly, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with garlic, S & P and baked until crispy. (Be sure to flip 2-3x while baking!) Add some rosemary if you’re a fan, and you’ll have a new easy side dish that everyone will ask for repeatedly. You can even turn up the heat and turn them into potato chips. Speaking of chips, check out these beauties, made by Chef Tom.
Since it’s the holidays, I also have the list of top holiday items, also from Melissa’s!
- Steamed Blackeyed Peas
- Pink Pineapple
- Egg Roll & Won Ton Wrappers
- Butterscotch Pears
- Hollandaise Sauce
- Clean Snax
- Tamale Kits
- Party Pecans
- Holiday Kettle Popcorn
These items aren’t just delicious, but they’re convenient, so it makes sense that they’re top sellers during the holiday season. The pink pineapple comes in its own box and is very unique. (It comes from Costa Rica and is the only one of it’s kind!) Hollandaise sauce can make it easy to serve a fancy Eggs Benedict without the hassle, and tamale kits make sure everyone can have tamales at Christmas without stalking someone because you forget to order them early.
Back to the menu at the holiday demo! The Hatch Pepper Polenta Fries were my favorite thing I ate all day. I really wanted to bring some of them — and the potato chips — home with me.
Keeping with the hatch pepper theme, the Hatch Pepper Deviled Eggs are another killer appetizer I could easily take to every single party and leave with an empty tray.
Making apps is not my forte; I have a lot of great ideas, but execution is where I fall short. Desserts are where I shine…but I do need to up my game before I take anything to next year’s holiday party. I wanted to contribute to the party, but I focused more on flavor than appearance, which is a rookie mistake that I intend to not make again. I got a lot of compliments on them, but from each thing I make, I learn how to make it, and other desserts better. This was no exception. Next time, more lime juice!
That’s my kinda app. Chopped veggies with one or more dips. Or chopped persimmons, specifically these cinnamon kind that can be eaten raw. Throw in a turmeric shooter and bam, healthy stuff amidst the sea of sugar and fat you see at a lot of holiday gatherings! Make it and they will come..because not everyone wants just the indulgent items, I promise.
Thank you, Melissa’s Produce, for inviting me to the 2023 holiday party! I came home with a wealth of knowledge, piles of foodie inspiration, and a whole lot of fresh produce, Melissa’s Produce products and a couple of cookbooks that I can’t wait to dive into.